3 months ago
Q&A: How We Found a Part-Time Nanny
After more than a year without any childcare and finally getting Margot through frontline treatment, it felt like the right time to look into a part-time nanny. Things have changed so much since the start of the pandemic and it feels like a lot to have someone in our home, but it felt worth it to try to find that perfect fit. Since I’m not going back to The Everygirl, it was my hope to find someone that would be here 3-4 days a week. I need time to work on Anecdote, my blog, to work out, organize our home, and some time to myself, too. Finding someone isolated that would come just 3 days a week was not really possible, but we did find someone who was open to 30-32 hours of work and she’s just so wonderful.
Today, I’m answering all your questions about finding a safe, part-time nanny.
How did you go through the hiring process?
I worked with Shannon of Just Like Family, who did all the upfront work for us. I mentioned this in a previous post, but we paid for her services. She searched, scheduled initial interviews, background checks, and forwarded on candidates that were a fit for us. By the time I spoke with the five nannies I interviewed, I knew a lot about them. We have to be so careful with Margot and no one knew anyone that was a fit. If you can’t find someone through a friend or family member, it can be tough. If hiring an agency isn’t in your budget, I’d try care.com or see if there’s a neighborhood email or facebook group for parents.
At what point did you realize you wanted/needed help? Was there a specific moment?
I went back to work full-time when Margot was three months so there was’t really another option. Daycare is a wonderful option but did not feel right for our family. I worked from home most days and wanted to be able to see Margot. Before the pandemic started, she went to multiple classes a week so she was able to get out, and I loved that she had one-on-one care specific to her needs and interests. Sleep was so hard for her, too. Not sure how that ever would have worked outside of our home.
When COVID hit, it no longer felt safe for us to have a nanny. I was just so nervous, and we paid our nanny for a few weeks and made the very difficult decision to part ways with her. Margot was diagnosed with Leukemia two months later, and I took a leave from work to get her through the next eight months of aggressive treatment, and three of those months were spent on “maternity leave” (if you can call it that) after having Kate. I love my girls so, so much, but being with them all day every day is the hardest job, and I want to work. You have to do what feels right for you, but I knew that I needed that, so the plan was always to have help again. After going through what we did with Margot, I knew I needed more time with the girls, and wanted at least one full weekday with them, and to be able to do more with them other days, too.
It’s been a lot trying to keep up with everything and our oncology nurse told me it would be fine to have help if we were safe. So I reached out to JLF, gave Shannon my protocol, and she did a search for us. We found someone who is vaccinated and isolated about a month later – feels like the perfect situation.
Any tips on structuring salary/benefits for a nanny?
Shannon took care of all of this for us. Our last nanny was given set paid vacation days and holidays (this one is, too) and I’m in the camp of these angel humans are caring for my babies, and I want to take care of them. Treat them well and be generous if you are able. I value this relationship and our nanny feeling valued.
Is it difficult to find a nanny who is a good fit with your family?
Our situation is unique since we are isolated and have a toddler who is high-risk. I had to have someone vaccinated or about to be vaccinated, who is isolated without any extra exposure (no kids, no roommates etc). Shannon spoke with a total of 27 nannies and I spoke with 5 of the 27. Many were wonderful but ruled out because of living situations or wanted full-time. Finding someone on your own can be tough, but it’s possible. I also believe you will know if they’re right when you meet them.
What questions did you ask when interviewing nannies?
There were a lot I didn’t have to ask, but I asked about previous experience with babies and toddlers the same ages as my girls, what she likes to do with them, and talked a lot about what we want for our family. Having someone I didn’t get along with and mesh with wouldn’t work for me at all. Really needed warmth in my home – someone who feels like family but also a friend. Maybe that’s not for everyone, but I loved long chats with our last nanny.
How do you trust a nanny with your baby?
This is a hard one. When our first nanny started with us, Margot was three months old and I was not ready to hand my baby off to someone else. I remember wanting to ask our nanny not to cross the street the first time they went for a walk (I didn’t) and not feeling great about someone else caring for my baby 40 hours a week. I fully respect the decision to have that much (or more) help for working parents, but for me, it felt like too much. I struggled but tried to remember that it wouldn’t be best for Margot not to go on walks, or to the park, or eventually, to classes or the library. So I just had to let it go and remind myself of what was best for Margot. Interacting with other kids was best for her, so I just did my best to find someone we trusted and remember that I can’t control everything.
How do you make sure it’s a job the nanny values and enjoys?
My advice on this is like first dating. When we hired our nannies, there was an immediate spark – an “it’s you” moment. I was upstairs changing quickly when our last nanny came to interview and heard her with Margot and Conor, and I knew. She was the one. No question. When we got on FaceTime with our current nanny, the way she said hi to me and then to Margot felt so good. She had this incredible energy and I saw how they interacted even through a screen, and I knew. With the process of working with JLF, I had the added benefit of knowing all about the candidates before meeting which also helped. I already knew she was qualified (degree in early childhood education, experience watching almost 20 kids at a daycare etc). Then she was just this gem of a person.
What tasks can a nanny be asked to do? Will she help with household things outside of caring for your girls?
I’ve heard it’s pretty normal to ask for light cleaning, the kids’ laundry, and tidying up after meals. Our last nanny who we love and miss did a lot of that but we also only had Margot, so she had time during naps. I’m realistic and know firsthand out hard this is, so I expect less when she has both girls unless they’re napping. I’d love for our nanny to help with their laundry when she is able but don’t want her to feel stressed about it, or that any household task is more important than the girls. We talked through this a little bit. If Kate is napping, she’s happy to help with the girls’ laundry and a few other things, but I’d only really expect that if I’m doing something with Margot. The kids need to come first.
What’s your approach for onboarding your nanny?
It’s not too formal. I’m going to be home and will show her around, answer questions, and be here to help however I can. When I was working full-time, I planned a day where I could be around to help.
What hours will she be there?
Right now, our plan is to have our nanny here 4 days a week, 9-5AM. I’ll have the mornings 6:30-9 with the girls, then dinner and bedtime, and all day Wednesday. The thing I’m most looking forward to is being able to take the girls out for solo time while our nanny is here. That’s something I want to do a lot of with Margot this summer since it’s harder to bring Kate with naps. There’s not a ton we can do but we can go to the lake, park, and zoo, and can hopefully see friends outside.
Will your nanny work part-time for another family as well?
No. She was just looking for part-time work so this is a perfect fit for us.
Where do you work in the house while the nanny is there?
My old office is now Kate’s room, so now, in our sunroom or at the dining table. Depends on how much I need to focus. The girls’ playroom is in the basement so during winter months, they’re down there a lot, and I try to stay out of the way. If I have a lot to power through, I can always work at Anecdote or my mother-in-law’s house.
Do you require the nanny to wear a mask while watching your kids?
Our nanny is fully vaccinated and isolated so no. It was my hope that our nanny wouldn’t have to wear a mask around the girls because developmentally, I think it’s best for both girls to see her face. She is comfortable wearing one, but I think with how upfront she’s being, the fact that she’s vaccinated, and how well Margot is doing, we won’t require it. If Margot’s counts drop, she’ll wear one temporarily. I really struggled with this for the girls because, especially for Kate, seeing someone’s entire face feels so important.